(Photo via nbcsports.com)
Less than 48 hours after the Golden State Warriors’ shocking loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers lead assistant coach of the Warriors, Luke Walton, quickly shakes off the disappointment and begins the new chapter of his meteoric rising career as he is announced as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Full Press Conference (courtesy HD ShowTyme on Youtube:
Walton takes over a team that is coming off franchise worst 17-65 season, their 3rd straight year where they set this mark. He also inherits one of the youngest and inexperienced rosters in the NBA which will only get younger and more inexperienced when the Lakers add two prospects in the upcoming NBA Draft on Thursday (Lakers own the 2nd and 32nd pick).
Walton laid out the expectations for the team.
“It’s us coming to work every day. It’s us working hard. It’s watching improvement in the young guys that’s exciting. It’s watching us get better as a team. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.” Walton told reporters.
Coming off the coaching tenure of Byron Scott that was known as a no-nonsense, military type leader, Walton proclaimed that his approach will be quite different by focusing on building a much more pleasant and upbeat culture.
“We’re going to put a stamp on the culture that we want, and it’s going to be joy. Our players are going to like coming into practice every day. We’re going to play a brand of basketball that the L.A. fans will appreciate. We’re going to compete. All these things going forward, with my vision of how we’re going to do things, is what I can control.” said Walton.
The player that seemed to struggle with Scott’s rough approach most was D’Angelo Russell so it is understandable that Walton’s description of the culture he wants to build is attractive to the young guard.
“A lot of us are coming out of college and just really want to be able to experience and play and have fun,” Russell told reporters. “He just mentioned having fun and being able to run as much as possible. So I think that’s what we need.”
It only took one interview before Walton committed to the Lakers head coaching job, not even taking time to listen to other offers that he would undoubtedly would have received being the hottest young coaching prospect this off-season. Walton laid out the reasons why the Lakers franchise was so attractive to him.
“We have young, talented players. We have draft picks. We have 55 million in free agency. We have one of the greatest fan bases of all time,” Walton said.
Rebuilding the roster with talent is the first area of business for Walton and the Lakers and it comes quickly. The NBA Draft is this coming Thursday where it is anticipated that they will take Brandon Ingram with the 2nd pick. Then, NBA Free agency begins on July 1st where players like Kevin Durant, Hassan Whiteside and Harrison Barnes will be available and likely pursued by the Lakers as well as a number of teams.
Walton is the 4th head coach in the last 4 years for the Lakers franchise with each of the previous 3 ending their run in disappointing fashion. There seems to be more optimism surrounding the Walton hire but that could be a byproduct of him being such an unknown with a limited track record coming in and that after 3 disastrous coaching tenures the Lakers fan base is desperate for any signs of that light signaling a return to championship contention at the end of the tunnel.